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Who Are the Poor? View Comments
By Carol Ann Morrow

MEETING PEOPLE IN POVERTY face-to-face is the fundamental first action of Vincentians, as members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are called. Strengthened by prayer and reflection, they go two by two to relieve human need, always beginning with a personal visit.

This makes Vincentians a primary and informed source of knowledge about the faces and places of poverty in the United States today. Seeking to grasp this picture, St. Anthony Messenger interviewed Sheila Gilbert, current president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, at her modest home on the east side of Indianapolis. The lifelong Hoosier has been the soft-spoken, direct, and knowledgeable leader of the 172,000 Vincentians in this nation since September 2011 and has been an active member of the society for 30 years. She is the first woman to head the society in the United States (see sidebar).

Elsewhere in this issue you can track the numbers. Gilbert prefers to describe situations.


Carol Ann Morrow, retired assistant managing editor of St. Anthony Messenger, is a graduate of St. Mary Academy, the same Franciscan high school from which Sheila Gilbert graduated.

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Catherine of Alexandria: According to the <i>Legend of St. Catherine</i>, this young woman converted to Christianity after receiving a vision. At the age of 18, she debated 50 pagan philosophers. Amazed at her wisdom and debating skills, they became Christians—as did about 200 soldiers and members of the emperor’s family. All of them were martyred. 
<p>Sentenced to be executed on a spiked wheel, Catherine touched the wheel and it shattered. She was beheaded. Centuries later, angels are said to have carried the body of St. Catherine to a monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai. </p><p>Devotion to her spread as a result of the Crusades. She was invoked as the patroness of students, teachers, librarians and lawyers. Catherine is one of the 14 Holy Helpers, venerated especially in Germany and Hungary.</p> American Catholic Blog We exist because God is infinitely beautiful, infinitely good, and overflowing with a love that seeks to share itself. When he made us and placed us in this glittering created world, it was an act of pure generosity.

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